Why Buy Green?
Green purchasing programs select products and services with a reduced negative impact on the environment and human health. An increasing number of green products work as well or better than traditional products and can be more cost effective, especially in the long term.
Switching to safer cleaning products, for example, can reduce incidents of allergic reactions, asthma, burns, eye damage, major organ damage, and cancer connected with the hazardous chemicals used in many traditional cleaning products. Buying 100% recycled-content paper can reduce energy use by 44 percent, decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 37 percent, cut solid waste emissions in half, decrease water use by 50 percent, and practically eliminate wood use. Similarly, energy-efficient vehicles and renewable energy sources cut greenhouse gas emissions and harmful air pollutants while lessening our dependence on imported oil.
Institutional purchasers – federal agencies, state and local governments, colleges and universities, and private companies – represent tremendous purchasing power. State and local governments spend more than $400 billion, and colleges and universities spend more than $300 billion, on products and services every year. Leveraging institutional purchasing power towards the procurement of green products and services increases market demand, spurring market innovation and ensuring these products and services are widely available and affordable for everyone.
What happens to products when we're finished with them? Most companies don't pay to recycle the products they make. Instead, local governments and their taxpayers pay. It's time to change that. For this reason, San Francisco passed the SF Extended Producer Responsibility Resolution, which calls for producers to shoulder more of the costs of disposing and and recycling. The City also often requires contracted vendors to recycle their own product.
The Story of Stuff: An entertaining introduction.
Why and How to Buy Green by Scot Case:
- Avoid making people feel guilty. Empower them to decide how much pollution they want in each product.
- Instead of looking at how much the product costs, look at the total cost through its manufacturing, maintenance, depreciation, upgrade, disposal.
- How to choose ecolabels (e.g., Energy Star) and avoid greenwashing. Ask organizations with environmental claims for a copy of the standard, how the standard was established, and how a product was verified to meet the standard.